DC -- Foggy Bottom -- Octagon House and American Institute of Architects Bldg:
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OCT_970808_02.JPG: Octagon House
The house was designed in 1798 by William Thornton, the first architect of the US Capitol. After the British burned the city in 1814, the Octagon House was one of the few remaining structures left standing. (It is said that the French Minister was in residence at the Octagon House so a French flag was flying over it during the attack. The British were not at war with France and spared the building.) While the White House was repaired, the Octagon House was temporarily the Presidential Mansion. While residing here, President James Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent which officially ended the War of 1812. His wife, Dolley Madison, hosted a huge celebration for the event and her ghost is said to still haunt the place.
In 1899, the American Institute of Architects took over the building, making it their home in 1910. In 1971, the AIA added the building seen behind this one.
Description of Subject Matter: The Octagon House, built between 1798 and 1800, was designed by Dr. William Thornton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol, and completed by 1800. Colonel John Tayloe, for whom the house was built, owned Mt. Airy plantation, located approximately 100 miles south of Washington in Richmond County, Virginia. Tayloe was reputed to be the richest Virginian plantation owner of his time, and built the house in Washington at the suggestion of George Washington. In 1814, Colonel Tayloe offered the use of his home to President and Mrs. Madison for a temporary "Executive Mansion" after the burning of the White House by the British. Madison, who used the circular room above the entrance as a study, signed the Treaty of Ghent there, which ended the War of 1812.
This three-story brick house, adapted to an irregular-shaped lot, displays a dramatic break with the traditional, late Georgian and early Federal house planning that preceded it. The Octagon achieves a zenith in Federal architecture in the United States, through its brilliant plan which combines a circle, two rectangles, and a triangle, and through the elegance and restraint of the interior and exterior decoration. The Coade stone, stoves, other decorative elements, and furniture were imported from England. The construction materials, such as bricks, timber, iron, and Acquia creek sandstone were all manufactured locally.
The Octagon House became the home of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) on January 1, 1899, and complete ownership of the property was acquired in the year 1902. Today, the American Architectural Foundation owns the Octagon House, and the AIA has moved its headquarters to a larger building located directly behind it. The house has undergone extensive renovation since 1996, culminating in efforts to restore it to its original period appearance.
The Octagon House is located at 18th St. and New York Ave. NW. Prearranged group tours are available by appointment. To arrange, phone 202/638-3221. V ...More...
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1997 photos: Since 1984, I've lived in Silver Spring, Maryland.
From 1981 to 2002, photos were taken using a Pentax ME Super camera.
From 1989 to 2002, I was doing all pictures as prints (instead of slides which I had grown up on).
In 1997, at the age of 40, my photo obsession began and I started taking thousands of photos per year.
In September, 2002, I switched to digital cameras and the number of photos exploded.
Image quality is going to be variable because these are scans of slides and/or prints.
The images shown here were scanned in two phases. In the early years of the website, I rescanned a selection of pre-digital images, all at fairly low quality settings. During the COVID pandemic, I launched the Great Rescanning Effort, rescanning ALL of my pre-digital images from various media (prints, slides, negatives, etc) at higher resolution and quality settings. Mutilple versions of images -- some from the initial scannning phase, some from prints, some from slides/negatives -- were posted so there are frequently duplicate images on the same page. At some point, I hope to have time to do a final review and get rid of the duplicates but that'll have to wait until all of the pre-digital images are finally posted.
Trips this year: North Carolina (Dad), Florida (Mom), using a time share in Arkansas to visit Civil War sites in Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. The Civil War became my excuse to see places I'd never been to in my life and it was a great motivator for 20 years or so.
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